A 7.3 magnitude earthquake hit the coast of Fukushima, Japan — the site of a 2011 nuclear disaster — on Wednesday.
“The earthquake near Namie, Japan, was reported just before 11 a.m. ET on Wednesday, which is around midnight Thursday there,” NBC News reported. “The Japan Meteorological Agency said the quake struck about 36 miles below the sea.”
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami advisory while the Japan Meteorological Agency maintained a low-risk advisory, NBC added. Two million homes in Japan are experiencing blackouts, while two aftershocks resulted in seven injuries — six of which occurred due to falling objects.
Meanwhile, The New York Times reported that nuclear power plants in the region were “under inspection” while Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said “officials were still assessing the extent of the damage.” Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority has not found any abnormalities at plants in Fukushima, in Onagawa in Miyagi Prefecture, or in Tokai in Ibaraki Prefecture.
“Close to 49,000 people were advised to evacuate the Miyagi area,” The New York Times explained. “The intensity of the earthquake equaled that of the Kobe earthquake of 1995, which killed more than 6,000 people. The difference is that the epicenter of Wednesday’s earthquake was about 60 kilometers below the sea.”
“Water pumps for spent fuel cooling pools at a separate power plant in Fukushima were down early Thursday, but Tokyo Electric said there was still water in the pools for now, and that one pump had returned to operation before 2 a.m.,” the outlet added.
In 2011, Japan experienced a 9.0 magnitude earthquake near Fukushima — the largest quake in the country’s recorded history.
“It triggered a tsunami which swept over the main island of Honshu, killing more than 18,000 people and wiping entire towns off the map,” BBC News summarized. “At the Fukushima nuclear power plant, the gigantic wave surged over defences and flooded the reactors, sparking a major disaster. Authorities set up an exclusion zone which grew larger and larger as radiation leaked from the plant, forcing more than 150,000 people to evacuate from the area.”
“A decade later, that zone remains in place and many residents have not returned. Authorities believe it will take up to 40 years to finish the work, which has already cost Japan trillions of yen,” BBC continued.
The earthquake on Wednesday occurred two weeks after a fire broke out at the Zaporizhzhia power plant in Ukraine as Russian forces bombarded the facility, which led Ukrainian officials to claim that the threat could be “10 times larger than Chernobyl” if the power plant was compromised. Although the fire at the plant was extinguished as Russians seized control, the United States government initially activated the Nuclear Incident Response Team. U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm also revealed that the reactors at the facility were “safely shut down.”
According to a statement from the White House, President Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about the incident, urging “Russia to cease its military activities in the area and allow firefighters and emergency responders to access the site.”
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